The International Ski Federation (FIS) Doping Panel came to a final decision on Monday in Andrus Veerpalu’s case. The Estonian champion’s positive drug test from this winter, which came just before World Championships in Oslo and his abrupt retirement, still stands. His two-year ban from competition was extended to three; the end of the sentence in 2014 falls precisely on the closing ceremonies in Sochi.
In February, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found Veerpalu to have elevated levels of human growth hormone, a result that was later confirmed with a second test in April. Though the HGH levels in the A- and B-sample test results differed by an unaccountable 34 percent, the FIS panel concluded that the hormone couldn’t have accidentally entered his system in any way. The case for defense, which centered around the claim that the result was unreliable due to faulty methodology, was dismissed, according to Aivar Pilv, one of Veerpalu’s lawyers.
The three-year competition ban is mainly symbolic, as Veerpalu is retired, the Estonian Ski Association said that he still plans on appealing the case in the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“The FIS did not take into account the arguments presented by our team and our scientists and we will go on to prove I am not guilty,” said Veerpalu in an official statement.
Ilmar-Erik Aavakivi, a member of Veerpalu’s legal team, did not immediately respond to a FasterSkier e-mail seeking comment.
According to FIS, a decision made by the Doping Panel has 21 days to be appealed in the Court of Arbitration, which has the final say in a case ruling.
In the wake of the panel’s decision, Estonian ski team doctor Tarvo Kiudma resigned from his post, denying any responsibility in administering growth hormone to Veerpalu. Kiudma joins sprint coach Björn Kristiansen in leaving the national team, and it remains to be seen whether anyone on the Estonian Ski Association board or the rest of the team’s coaching staff will follow suit.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.